How does Romanian sound to Americans

All Things Romania


Note: what follows is my (in) famous post 37 steps translated into German (much thanks to the SMG), also available in limba romana. Enjoy!

Step 1 - Speak Italian and Spanish and laugh and wave away. Romanian is also a Romance language, isn't it? Practically the same.

step 2 - Meet some Romanians in the US, ask them for a handful of words. Remember only one thing - opt - which means eight. Really. On the first day I showed up in Romania, that was the only word I knew.

step 3 - Go to Romania, meet 5,012 people who all speak English by nature and as a result do not teach Romanian at all.

Don't buy Romanian-English (LOL) dictionaries for some reason.

Step 4 - Go back to the US, look in every bookstore in your city, find out that there are tons of dictionaries and courses and blists for Portuguese and Russian, but nothing for Romanian. Really nothing, nada.

Go to Amazon dot com and find literally the only Romanian-English dictionaries available, a 1946 first edition that has never been changed since then.

Step 5 - Print an article from a Romanian (online) newspaper every day at work. Pull out your antique dictionary and try to translate it word for word.

Comment: That was particularly pleasant because the underemployed Romanian workers decided in 1989 to carry out a spelling reform. Well my dear friends!

Step 6 - Find about half the words and start learning them, but be totally confused for hmmm, a year or two about the fact that your dictionary doesn't (obviously) contain half the words that appear in a well-read newspaper .

Step 7 - Go to Romania, speak only English to everyone and therefore only learn a few words.

Step 8 - Find out at the end that Pimsleur has a Romanian course. Yay! You park the baby in the car stereo and learn Romanian on your daily commute. Then you find out that the course has ONE SINGLE lesson and that's just how you learn bună ziua Saying (hello) with the correct accent. And then - well, bad luck.

Step 9 - Finally move to Romania. No more visiting, baby!

Step 10 - Start shopping yourself and always be extra sure to make sure that you can read the numbers on the till because you don't understand the so-called numbers that the lady tells you. say bună ziua and when she tries to start a conversation with you, nick, smile and mumble.

Step 11 - In the end, realize that the "official" way in which Romanians say numbers is ABSOLUTELY DIFFERENT from the way they actually say them.

For example: pai-spre-zece is the official way of saying 14. The "real" way is pai-schpä.

Step 11B - Never order TWO of anything, because this one number is male and for others female and you don't know which is which. So always order three even if you only want two of anything.

Step 12 - Start talking to gypsies, mostly beggars, who will approach you first. They are the only ones patient enough to sit around and speak Romanian to you.

Step 13 - First time riding a train unassisted :)

Step 14 - Have a huge argument with your landlady, who doesn't really speak English and is definitely damned unhappy with your skills in cleaning the apartment. She once ordered me to clean the oven with a toothbrush. LOL.

Step 15 –In the end, realize that you’re before 9am bună dimineața have to say what dee-mee-NATZA and not dee-mee-nhatza means.

Step 16 - Move on a street that ends in "ului" and FINALLY master how to pronounce it after you have taken a taxi about 5,812 times and had to give the driver the address.

Step 17 - Continue to meet Romanians (including girlfriends) who speak better English than you do, rusting your already rusty brain and its ability to learn a new language even more.

Step 18 - Start your television that has neither cable nor satellite and only receives one cable (PRO TV - television for professionals). 90% of the programming is American subtitled shows, which helps you a bit.

Grit your teeth and force yourself to do “comedies” like Trăsniți in NATO (crazy in NATO about Klaun's soldiers doing gymnastics in the barracks) and La Bloc (the apartment block - about neighbors gossip).

Step 19 - Move to another city where you'll get cable TV and a new girlfriend who likes shows like "Surprize, Surprize" (don't ask - it's hideous) and "Wife Swap". Wife swapping is pretty good. You can look into every apartment and see that you are not the only one whose walls are hung with icons and whose tables and all other pieces of furniture are covered with HÄCKELSPTIZE.

Step 20 - One day in the store the total of your purchase is 6 lei. Give the lady 11 lei and when she looks at you in amazement, formulate your FIRST ROMANIAN SENTENCE: “the rest is 5 lei”. She smiles, understands and really gives you back 5 lei. You jump home like on clouds.

Note: That was during the "good old days" when Romanian money had a million more zeros. But you understand.

Step 21 - Meet your friend's parents who you accidentally thought didn't speak English. Be “forced” to drink schnapps with your father and pick out jokes and find out when you are in plenty of bottles (hee, hee !!) that the mother speaks English quite well. Fortunately, you haven't said a lot of dirty things - at least you hope so.

Step 22 - Beginning to show how well you master Romanian. Talk to taxi drivers most of the time. They all think in return that you are Hungarian. After about 6 months you will find out that you speak Romanian exactly like Marko Bela and that you have to be Hungarian like him.

Note: Later you will imitate Marko Bela to the amusement of your friends and admirers - KLING!

Step 23 - Make friends with a Romanian who speaks good English and get to know someone he knows who doesn't. The two become (almost) a couple and then suddenly he gets a job in another city and he passes the girlfriend on to you.

Yes, you now have your very first acquaintance who does NOT speak English.

Step 24 - Keep dating her, getting to know her roommate, her cousins, brothers, uncles, her mother and father and all sorts of people and find out that none of them speak English. They are all from Maramureş where it is obviously illegal to speak English or something. Well, your bad luck, my luck!

At the end go to Maramureş and go out in town. Get to know a lot of new Maramureşeni and realize that they ALSO speak NO English, no trace. Speak Romanian until your tongue falls out of your throat.

Step 25 - Continue to talk to taxi drivers and giggle maliciously if you occasionally meet a driver who is upset about either foreigners or Hungarians and doesn't realize that I'm not Romanian.

Note: Do this with a lot of marbles. A lot of “there” and mumbling and nobody discovers * angry giggles *.

Step 26 - Start buying Romanian children's books like "Capra cu Trei Iezi", The Romanian far more cruel and bloody version of the Grimm fairy tale:"The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids”That little American Bambinos would be scared to death.

Step 27 - Buy yourself a copy of Romanian poems (Eminescu), sigh and realize that you will never understand it in your life. Go to his special tree in Iasi anyway and have your photo taken in front of it and consider that a win.

Step 28 - Take a million trains in every valley in the country from Craiova to Oradea to Botosani to Constanța and of course Buckarest. Engage in a lot of conversations with the colorful characters who ride on the rails, have a lot of great adventures. Some you will never be able to talk about, such as the incident with the biosexual man.

Step 29 - Finally, be sure of your Romanian language skills to take part in the most popular sport in this country, known by the name of opinionated scolding.

In Romania there is a “right way” to do everything from putting on socks to taking the bus. When someone crosses the line, the time has come for opinionated scolding. You throw yourself in the chest, use a very indignant voice and perhaps a raised index finger and subject the poor role-transgressor to a good opinionated scold.

Step 30 - Even speak Romanian to Romanians who can speak English and let them keep telling you that you don't speak their language very well.

They, on the other hand, can cut up English at will and argue with you about whether “am fost la mall” means “I went AT the mall” and are extremely sure that their grammar skills in English are far superior to your own.

Step 31 - Go on with anyone and everyone, including a toothless old man (a cute guy by the way, I liked him very much), gypsies, beggars, peasant boobies (the a-chee instead of a-i-ch say), to speak to people from Oltenia (who have their own special past for verbs), people from Buckarest, people from Banat and of course Moldovans. These all have their own special accent, slang, pronunciation, and even different words for common things.

Step 32 - Go to Buckarest and learn one of the actors La Bloc know him and tell him how the show helped you to learn Romanian and what a shitty show it was. He laughs and agrees 1000 ig and sits down with you for a beer and tells you lots of great stories.

By the way, his character's name on the show was "The American" and now you find that ironic and amusing. But back when you were watching the show it was extremely frustrating and bizarre.

Step 33 - On the street you are asked where something is, especially the CEC - grin with satisfaction, because you not only know where the thing is, but you can also explain in good Romanian how to get there! Yay.

Romanians are genetically the WORST direction explainers in the world and so I see myself as a hero for the good service in this area.

Step 34 - Start learning Russian and suddenly all the weird parts of Romanian grammar and syntax make sense.

Step 35 - Start helping your Hungarian friends and exchange students from other countries with Romanian.

Step 36 - In Buckarest someone thinks you were born in Transylvania. Yes! You won! You finally speak Romanian so well that people think you come from here.

Step 37 - Tell everyone you know that you now officially speak Romanian and that you have been crowned the new King of Romania. Nobody is impressed, not a bit. LOL. But hey, I'm happy and that matters.

Do you see? That's how it's done. Wasn't that difficult at all. Only lasted 10 years.

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